Unfortunately, the poll I submitted two weeks ago for the decks to include in this article decided that Mythic Conscription versus Next Level Bant was the matchup we should test. We already tested it last week. From both this column’s results and most of the tournaments being held at the moment, the it seems that Mythic Conscription is currently the best deck in Standard. Oli and I decided to keep on the testing of the deck, instead making it face Red Deck Wins, which seem to be popular once more.
Mono Red aggro is a very special deck: everyone forgets about it, and then it starts winning. After a few weeks, people play Kor Firewalker in their sideboard and it cannot win anymore. The less expected it is, the better the results it gets. The Mythic Conscription deck I play has three Baneslayer Angel maindeck, but no Rhox War Monks, and no Kor Firewalkers in the sideboard (the manabase can hardly support the soldier anyway). According to the matchup results, and due to the possible rise of the Red deck, maybe some adjustments will be necessary in order to fight it in the future, especially as Dauntless Escort does not seem that good in the current metagame.
I will play the Mythic Conscription deck that Naoki Nakada piloted to win Grand Prix: Manila:
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Knight of the Reliquary
- 3 Sovereigns of Lost Alara
- 3 Dauntless Escort
- 3 Baneslayer Angel
- 4 Lotus Cobra
Oli will play this version of Mono Red:
Maindeck Games (1 win, 23 losses, 0.4 % games won)
On the play: 1 win, 11 losses
On the draw: 0 win, 12 losses
I had no idea that a matchup could be so bad…
Oli mulliganed once, to 6, out of 24 games, and clearly was on a roll as he was neither screwed nor flooded for mana at any time. However, RDW is a stable deck, and its draws are very regular. On the other hand, I mulliganed a lot and had frequent mana problems… but consistency is the main problem of Mythic Conscription.
There is not much to say about the gameplay. The matchup is just a slaughter. I will explain the game process.
The deck has consistency problems, but to counterbalance that, it has a unique “explodability” factor. While Next Level Bant is more controlling and can develop without its mana creatures, Mythic Conscription needs a mana ramp spell to play its winning cards. With 16 spells that cost 4 or more in the deck, it is pretty easy for RDW to prevent those winning cards from ever reaching the board, simply by killing the mana acceleration.
Whenever you are on the play, you have eight one-drops (assuming you have the mana to cast them). RDW has eleven one-mana burn spells with which to kill them. On the draw, you can add 4 Searing Blaze to the available burn list. If you do not have a fetch land in the graveyard on turn 1, in order to have a potential 4/4 Knight of the Reliquary on turn 2, then there is no reason for your opponent to actually kill a turn 1 Birds of Paradise with Forked Bolt, as he can use it on the Bird and a Lotus Cobra or Noble Hierarch on turn 2. You should know that any mana creature you cast in the early game will die.
When I started playing tournaments, I was a Mono Red beatdown player, as were a lot of us. I remember that it was tough to decide whether to kill a creature or keep the damage to burn the opponent. Nowadays, with Searing Blaze, Scattershot, and even Forked Bolt, getting rid of creatures doesn’t cost tempo (or even burn!) for RDW; the deck keeps beating you up while dealing with your board. I thought that last week’s matchup was a nightmare, but this one was even worse.
I thought about some different mana development plans, such as playing Lotus Cobra on turn 3 along with a Misty Rainforest in order to cast a Knight of the Reliquary on the same turn. The Cobra can be killed before the Fetchland resolves, and at that point, you will only have two mana to cast something. That could work if your opponent always cast a three-mana haste creature on turn 3, but he does not, and anyway, casting the Lotus Cobra on turn 2 and the Knight of the Reliquary on turn 3 would achieve the same goal.
Nothing other than simply casting everything when you actually can makes sense, except for maybe curving out when you know that your opponent is RDW, by playing a land that enters the battlefield tapped on turn 1 and your one-drop on turn 2 with another tapped land, in order to be sure to have three then four untapped lands available on the following turns.
I found myself in the same spot almost every game – topdeck-land mode – to even stand a chance to survive an extra turn, or to cast a Baneslayer Angel and have a slight opportunity of winning. A third of the lands in the deck enter the battlefield tapped, and almost as many are Fetchlands that cost you one life, help the Red player, and decrease the amount of basics in the deck and so lower the odds of drawing an untapped land.
The deck is aggro and does not interact with the opponent’s board or gameplan. I think that if the Dauntless Escort had been Rhox War Monk (4 toughness is gooooood), then I would have won at least seven more games.
Goblin Guide on turn 1 seemed unbeatable, whoever started the game. The best answer to Ball Lightning was to chump it with a Knight of the Reliquary. To at least have a chance, you need to block the opponent’s I-die-at-end-of-turn-anyway creatures to stay high in life, and then hope he only draws lands.
With no instants in the deck, Planeswalkers are your only defense against your opponent’s board. But they actually do nothing.
I got Jace, the Mind Sculptor into play twice, and it did nothing at all. Oli did not even need to waste damage on it. It somehow managed to bounce a Kargan Dragonlord once, but that had already done its dirty work.
Elspeth, Knight-Errant’s defensive ability was useless, as the 1/1 tokens would just “gain 1 life” when blocking half a Hellspark Elemental or a Ball Lightning. Not enough for a card you are struggling to cast.
Gideon Jura was a bit disappointing. It is quite hard to gather the five mana to cast it, and then the opponent just burns you out or kills it with a Kargan Dragonlord. It is the only card in the deck that can deal with the Level Up guy
Kargan Dragonlord is a very good example of the deck’s weaknesses. It shows up, gets pumped, and kills you.
In the end, the only card that helps you to survive is Baneslayer Angel. But it is hard to cast, and it gets killed relatively easily by two burn spells. If the RDW player knows that it is the only card in your deck he might fear and your only gameplan, he should be able to play around it. Baneslayer Angel does not win a race versus Kargan Dragonlord.
By helping you to survive, Baneslayer also becomes your only viable kill condition. Not only do you need it in order to avoid death, but you first need to survive until you are able to cast it. For the record, I successfully cast the Angel three times, and it only won once. In the time spent gathering enough mana for the Angel, RDW accumulates enough damage to kill either you or the 5/5. The card is your only game plan, but you cannot even set up a good configuration for it.
Elspeth, Knight-Errant almost won a few games thanks to the +3/+3 flying ability when Oli had mediocre draws, but it always ended up too short, as there is not enough beatdown in the deck to make it effective.
Failure of Threats
Sovereigns of Lost Alara/Eldrazi Conscription: I did not even cast any of these in 24 games. 100% pure dead cards.
Knight of the Reliquary: Usually blocked a Ball Lightning to only lose two life from it. Only accelerated into bad cards the few times it survived. The card is still okay, but it dies too easily unless you already sacrificed many Fetchlands, in which case your opponent will be in a good shape anyway (starting on 17 is not something you want to do in this match-up). Might protect Baneslayer Angel from Red sometimes, in theory, but anyway, if you want to cast it and not die straight away, you need to accelerate your mana with the Knight… and then it would not be untapped to use its protection ability.
Planeswalkers: Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Elspeth, Knight-Errant are almost blanks. Gideon Jura is too expensive.
If you know you are facing Mono Red, you need an excellent draw.
There are so many dead cards in the deck that anything else, even other cards that are only marginally appropriate, will be better. The goal while sideboarding (with this specific list at least) will be to replace horrible cards with cards that are slightly better, even if they’re not great.
-3 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
-2 Eldrazi Conscription
-3 Sovereigns of Lost Alara
-2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor (I decided to keep one in to get an edge if the game is under control… anyway, the deck still needs some four-drops)
-1 Dauntless Escort
+1 Emerge Unscathed
+2 Oblivion Ring (I only found out later that Oli played three Kargan Dragonlord instead of four)
+1 Bant Charm
+3 Celestial Purge
Sideboarded Games (10 wins, 16 losses, 38.4% games won)
On the play: 6 wins, 7 losses
On the draw: 4 wins, 9 losses
Celestial Purge changed everything. Having the possibility to get rid of any of the RDW creatures was needed. Thanks to the White instant, the games turned out to be close. When main deck Ball Lightning or Kargan Dragonlord was almost GG, after board you had a chance.
The best “counter” was Emerge Unscathed. Deprive was too hard to cast without Birds of Paradise or Noble Hierarch. Negate was okay.
Thanks to those “control” cards, Celestial Colonnade was able to attack and win some games by itself, the mana creatures could sometimes survive, and there were no dead cards in my hands.
Now that I have played the matchup, I understand why this Mono Red list is very popular at the moment.
Two things can be deduced from this:
First, Next Level Bant will be much better in the matchup than Mythic Conscription, as it has more control and more aggression thanks to Vengevine. Thus, the deck will remain a solid choice.
Second, with an appropriate sideboard and Rhox War Monk main deck, Mythic Conscription will have a good chance against Mono Red.
The sideboard cards could be:
– Kor Firewalker (but the current mana probably cannot support it, and you do not want to cast it on turn 5)
– Path to Exile (a cheap and on-curve removal)
– Bojuka Bog (can be useful in some other matchups), Kabira Crossroads (I wanted to board in a 26th land).
– 1 to 4 Rhox War Monks (according to how many of those you play maindeck)
– Lone Missionary, Perimeter Captain (both are probably better than Kor Firewalker)
– More Emerge Unscathed (the card was REALLY good, and it’s probably good in many other matchups, such as Jund)
Until next time…